Real Shopping: Is it worth it... White shirts

A white shirt is a classic, but the Sea Island Quality shirt from Pink is a debatably classic price at pounds 75. Is it worth it?

"There are whites, and whites. The finer and denser the weave, the whiter the cloth; a main price determinant," says Michael Booth, chairman of Milditch and Key. Made from 100 per cent Egyptian cotton, the Pink shirt has a very fine weave. The result - a brilliantly white cloth that's silky against the skin.

Purpose determines worth in terms of cut. For close-tailored jacket shirts, bespoke is unbeatable. For looser, "shirt-sleeve"-style, a straight-cut, off-the-peg is adequate. Pink's box-cut benefits from generous sizing. Back panel darts offer comfort to broad-shouldered men which cheaper shirts with less material may lack. Shirt tails - the obvious place to cut costs - are long. The semi-cutaway collar is deep, yet classically unobtrusive; with stays that ensure perky shape-retention. Double cuffs are single- stitched three times for durability, and offer two optional cuff lengths plus two sleeve lengths.

The truth is that M&S's pounds 20 Essential White Cotton Shirt compares favourably, with a range of collars, cuffs and sleeve lengths. Only shirt-snobs would invest so heavily in the halfway-house to bespoke. For them, the Sea Island Quality Shirt offers a shade more tailoring quality, at a price just the right side of painful.